Another Comic-Con has come to a close, after four days of bright lights, big news, and sublime cosplay. There were some amazing moments—and some that flopped, and flopped hard. Here’s our list of the biggest winners of San Diego Comic-Con 2016, and its biggest losers, too.
As ever, this list was written after days of debate—but you might think a little differently to us. Agree or disagree with who won and who lost? Let us know in the comments.
It’s clear that DC/WB is still trying to win back fans after the criticisms to Batman v Superman, but it paid off. Bringing the entire Suicide Squad to join their panel was no small feat, but even Will Smith couldn’t draw the attention from the utterly phenomenal Wonder Woman trailer, which made it look like it could be DC’s best live-action movie ever. But the real shock was that WB hustled to put together a selection of still-filming Justice League clips to the surprise and delight of everyone at the con—and then released that online for fans everywhere to enjoy. Well done, guys.
It’s hard for a movie that isn’t a sequel, or that doesn’t star a superhero, to make a splash at Comic-Con, but that’s exactly what Luc Besson’s Valerian (and the City of a Thousand Planets) did. Everyone who saw the film footage raved about the movie all weekend, which looks like the spiritual successor to The Fifth Element—a fun, funny, wildly creative scifi film. We expect this to be a major hit when it arrives in 2017.
People at the Marvel Movie Panel
The stalwart souls who braved hours in line to attend Marvel’s movie panel were treated to the usual cascade of delight. That included the second (much-better) Doctor Strange trailer, a fantastic first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a genius Guardians clip, the Black Panther cast, a wonderful trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the much, much-anticipated casting of Captain Marvel. They even had an on-screen Tango and Cash reunion (Sylvester Stallone is in Guardians along with Kurt Russell, playing Star Lord’s dad, Ego) But the real treat was Thor: Ragnarok director Taiki Waititi’s mockumentary about what Thor did while the rest of Marvel heroes were Civil War-ing. Honestly, we’re more excited for that footage to get released online instead of the GotG trailer.
We still don’t exactly know why the CW’s show adaptation of the infinitely long-running Archie comic ditches the teenage hijinks for a weird, dark, suspense-mystery series that includes murder, illicit affairs, and much more, but we know we’ll be watching when it premieres this fall. It’s just too damn fun to miss.
The first trailer for the newest Marvel/Netflix series was a breath of fresh air, despite it still being about a street-level superhero who protects a specific portion of New York City in a series that looks like it’s lit with a pair of flashlights. But Luke Cage, while he obviously has troubles and issues, is not broken and self-loathing like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Nothing against them, but we’re really excited to see a Marvel TV series about a guy who isn’t conflicted about being a hero.
Christopher James Priest
The man who wrote one of the best-ever runs of Black Panther comics had pretty much disappeared from comics. But this year, his return to the field where he’d blazed trails was one of the highlights of Comic-Con 2016. Three decades after he became the first black writer/editor at Marvel and DC, Priest won an Inkpot Award at this year’s convention and much of the excitement around the upcoming Black Panther movie comes from work done by Priest. (Chadwick Boseman called out a scene from that 1998 Black Panther series as a favorite.) His next work will be on DC’s new Deathstroke title, which will be one heck of a ride if it matches the quality of his best work.
Books! Books were everywhere at this con, from the floor to the conference rooms. In addition to new books getting their debuts at the con, old books were getting a lift from the properties based on them. After panels for shows like American Gods, Dirk Gently, and The Expanse, people were talking about picking up the original material for a good read or re-read. American Gods was a particularly great example of this, since its panel previewed a show that looked amazing and one that promised an extra experience to people who knew and loved the book.
With video games aplenty, a collectible card game, television cartoons, and movies galore, Pokémon has decades of nerd cred. Originally, the Comic-Con presence for Niantic’s hit mobile game was supposed to be in one of the convention’s medium-sized event spaces. After it became a phenomenon and millions of people all over started playing it, the Pokémon Go panel got upgraded to Hall H. Yeah, the same cavernous space where Marvel, DC/WB, and other big-deal entities show off hotly-anticipated movies and the like. Though the panel didn’t offer up a Legendary-status pocket monster as was rumored, just the fact that mobile game-makers got to hold court at the con’s biggest stage is remarkable. Even beyond its own panel, Pokémon Go was on everyone’s lips.
Humanity at Large
Torchwood star John Barrowman traditionally appears in various costumes at Comic-Con, many of them absurd. So he would have to have an outfit that was truly special to be noteworthy. Something phenomenal. And someone would need to take a photo of him in that outfit striking a perfect pose and facial expression that it would qualify as a work of art, to get a mention here.
So well done.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Guy Ritchie’s giant medieval epic looks like a mess made up entirely of rip-offs of much better material, including his own. What’s worse is that it made zero impression on … anyone, really, and this is supposed to be the first movie in a giant six-movie series. We don’t expect it to make it to three.
People Not at the Marvel Movie Panel
As mentioned about, people at the Marvel Movies panel got to see the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer, the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer and clips, the Captain Marvel announcement, and more. People who didn’t get into the panel—which is something like 99.99999999999 percent of the population—got… the Doctor Strange trailer, and that’s it. It was definitely better than the first one, but it looks like King Arthur: Legend of the Sword next to Wonder Woman, and DC gave us Justice League, too.
The Killing Joke
We had to specify DC’s Live-Action Movies were “winners” at this year’s Comic-Con, specifically because of The Killing Joke. The animated adaptation of Alan Moore’s famous/infamous Batman comic was a loser before the con even started, as word of the film’s frankly sexist character assassination of Batgirl spread. But then, when people brought their complaints up, screenwriter Brian Azzarello managed to call someone a “pussy.” To be fair, Azzarello has clarified he called the journalist a “pussy” for voicing his complaint too quietly, and not for his actual complaint. Perhaps calling anyone a word that uses slang for female genitalia as an insult in a panel where you’re pretending to empower a beloved female character is a bad idea anyway.
Time Travel Shows
Of all the pilots that came and fizzled at Comic-Con, the time travel ones fared the worst. Frequency was polished, but dull. Time After Time wasn’t nearly as campy as a show about H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper through time and space should be. Neither show improved on the concepts of the original movies they are based on. Timeless had slightly better buzz, but it’s gonna get buried with all the other time travel shows coming out.
Guys, there just weren’t a lot of losers at this year’s Comic-Con. We didn’t get a ton of surprises, but there also weren’t a lot of duds. Even the con seemed to run more smoothly than it has in a while. The losers … lost. The losers actually lost at losing. Does that make them winners?